Intel has long dominated the x86 architecture based server and PC processor market through the IDM model. At the same time, it acts as a pioneer in the semiconductor industry’s process miniaturization according to Moore’s Law. Yet, in recent years, Intel has seen continued delays in the development of 10nm and 7nm technologies. At the same time, in the ARM architecture based SoC processor market, customers can continuously and steadily obtain higher performance, lower power consumption, and more cost efficient IC design and manufacturing services through the continuous technological breakthroughs of TSMC at 10/7/5nm or even 3nm, integrated with the TSMC-led Open Innovation Platform (OIP), process and design-technology co-optimization (DTCO), and 3DFabric advanced packaging services. In addition to Apple leading the world in releasing the most advanced AP-SoC mobile processors, AMD’s PC processor market share on the client side is gradually threatening Intel. At the same time, the supply stability of the AMD Graphic and Data Center also trumps Intel and Nvidia. Furthermore, Apple’s self-developed M1/M1 pro/M1 max processors built with TSMC’s 5nm technology have been a reason for Intel’s lost Macbook series orders in the past two years which, in turn, has encouraged more brand-named manufacturers to initiate Fabless development strategies. Companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Alibaba have all put forward self-developed ARM architecture solutions.
In 2020, Intel continuously spoke publicly stating that the company’s long-term core development strategy is gradually shifting from the old CPU processor business to xPU data computing services and, after revealing plans to outsource a portion of their CPU business, discussed plans to partner with TSMC. According to TrendForce’s investigations, Intel’s earlier non-CPU products such as FPGA, ASIC, RFIC, PMIC and Wi-Fi have already been outsourced to TSMC, UMC or Samsung. As of today, Intel has officially released orders for CPU products to TSMC. Discounting cooperation in existing product lines, the division of labor between Fabless and Foundry combined with TSMC-led OIP, DTCO and 3D Fabric services will provide Intel with a multitude of choices. In addition to maintaining their original IDM model, Intel can maintain a high-margin self-developed production line and appropriate capital investment while flexibly using TSMC’s production line to create additional diversified value and maintain a competitive advantage against competitors such as AMD.
Although the demand for end products related to the stay-at-home economy slowed down as many countries saw rising vaccination rates and were partially lifting social distancing restrictions, the decline in foundry orders from this source was more than offset by the traditional peak season for smartphones, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. At the same time, OEMs for notebook (laptop) computers, networking devices, automotive electronics, and IoT devices kept vigorously building up their inventories because the earlier capacity crunch in the foundry market was constraining them from reaching their shipment targets. Because of these developments, demand continued to outstrip supply in the foundry market during 3Q21. As for foundries, they have been gradually taking on new production capacity in the recent period and gaining from the ongoing rise in the ASP. Thanks to robust demand, new production capacity, and rising wafer prices, the quarterly total foundry revenue rose by 11.8% QoQ to reach a new record high of US$27.28 billion for 3Q21. This result indicated nine consecutive quarters of revenue growth.
Top four foundries posted double-digit revenue growth for 3Q21 due to peak season for smartphones; SMIC’s revenue growth was slightly limited by restrictions imposed on its capacity expansions
TSMC raised its quarterly revenue by 11.9% QoQ to US$14.88 billion as it benefited from the release of new iPhone models. The foundry remained firmly at the top of the ranking in 3Q21. Regarding TSMC’s revenue generation by node, the combined revenue share of the 7nm and 5nm nodes has already surpassed 50% and is still expanding thanks to continued demand for smartphone chips and HPC chips. Samsung raised its revenue by 11% QoQ to US$4.81 billion for 3Q21 and sat firmly in second place. The revenue growth was attributed to several factors. First, the releases of new smartphone models during the second half of the year has spurred the demand for SoCs and DDIs. Second, fab Line S2 in Austin has returned to its normal level of revenue contribution following the recovery from the winter storm that struck Texas in the earlier part of this year. Third, fab Line S5 in Pyeongtaek has activated its newly added production capacity. And finally, the revenue result for 2Q21 was a low base for comparison and thus led to a rather impressive performance for 3Q21.
UMC made significant gains in 3Q21 because the activation of new production capacity for its 28/22nm nodes led to an increase in wafer input for OLED driver ICs and other components. This also caused a rise in its blended ASP. UMC’s revenue went up by 12.2% QoQ to US$2.04 billion for 3Q21. With a growth rate that surpassed the top two ranking leaders, UMC retained third place by overtaking GlobalFoundries in the ranking for the first time in 1Q20, and its lead has been gradually widening since then. GlobalFoundries posted a QoQ increase of 12% in revenue to US$1.71 billion for 3Q21 and kept fourth place in the ranking. To address the worldwide chip shortage, GlobalFoundries has announced a series of capacity expansions and greenfield projects this year. Existing plants including Fab1 in Dresden and Fab8 in Malta (which is a town in the state of New York) will take on new production capacity. New plants will also be built in Singapore and Malta. It is worth noting that the capacity expansions and greenfield projects that GlobalFoundries has revealed so far for this year will be financed via a public-private partnership model. GlobalFoundries will be leveraging funding from governments and advance payments from its clients to reduce the pressure of rising capital expenditure and ensure that the new production capacity will operate at a high utilization rate in the future.
SMIC increased its revenue by 5.3% QoQ to US$1.42 billion for 3Q21 and was ranked fifth. Two reasons were behind the revenue growth. First, there is a stable level of demand for its PMICs, Wi-Fi chips, MCUs, and RFICs. Second, SMIC has been steadily raising wafer prices. It is also worth pointing out that SMIC has been adjusting its product mix and client base due to geopolitical factors. Growing consistently over the quarters, the share of Chinese clients in SMIC’s client base came to almost 70% in 3Q21. Under the impetus of the semiconductor policies of the Chinese government, SMIC will continue to give priority to the demand from domestic clients. Hence, the portion of foreign clients in its incoming orders will gradually shrink relative to that of domestic clients.
Second- and third-tier foundries posted higher revenue growth rates compared with first-tier counterparts because of strong demand for mature nodes
HuaHong Group posted a QoQ increase of 21.4% in revenue to US$799 million for 3Q21, thereby taking sixth place in the ranking. HuaHong continues to raise its ASP as it production capacity is expected to be fully loaded through the whole 2021. This development, together with the successful capacity expansion undertaken at its Fab7 in Wuxi, contributed to the above-expected revenue result for the foundry. PSMC’s revenue growth continued to pick up pace in 3Q21 thanks to the general rise in wafer prices and the robust demand for the main categories of chip products (e.g., DDIs, PMICs, CIS, and power discretes such as MOSFETs and IGBTs). PSMC raised its quarterly revenue by 14.4% QoQ to US$525 million and was ranked seventh.
After surpassing Tower Semiconductor in the ranking for the first time in 2Q21, VIS maintained its strong growth momentum by posting a QoQ increase of 17.5% in revenue to US$426 million in 3Q21 on account of several factors. First, VIS increased its products shipments through capacity expansion. Furthermore, VIS was able to optimize its product mix and raise its ASP. It secured eighth place in the ranking. Occupying ninth place in the ranking, Tower Semiconductor’s performance exceeded expectations for 3Q21 with its revenue climbing 6.9% QoQ to US$387 million. Tower’s revenue generation mainly benefited from the stable demand related to RF-SOI chips, industrial sensor chips, and PMICs.
Taking the tenth place in the ranking, DB HiTek registered a 15.6% QoQ increase in revenue to a record high of US$283 million for 3Q21 because of the rising ASP. In the past year, DB HiTek kept its capacity utilization rate at almost 100%. To raise its overall output, the foundry has decided to focus its expansion efforts on its existing wafer production lines. As a result, its production capacity has been increasing slightly since 2Q21. The additional production capacity will effectively contribute to its revenue generation in 4Q21.
Moving into 4Q21, although foundries have undertaken various capacity expansions and greenfield projects, their new production capacity that has been activated this year is already completely booked. The new fabs that foundries have announced will need some time to get built and fully set up, so the chip shortage on the whole will unlikely ease off anytime soon. On the demand side, sales have weakened a bit for TVs and other end products associated with the stay-at-home economy. However, the hardware and infrastructure demand related to 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and IoT continues to gain momentum. Moreover, OEMs for consumer electronics are still stocking up on components in preparation for the year-end holiday sales. Based on the latest examination of incoming foundry orders, TrendForce finds that foundries will continue to operate at fully-loaded capacity. Due to the undersupply situation, the overall ASP of the foundry market has also been climbing. Meanwhile, foundries have been optimizing their product mixes to boost their financial performances. Taking account of this and other aforementioned developments, TrendForce believes that revenue growth will continue for the top 10 foundries in 4Q21. However, 4Q21 will also see more moderate growth compared with the previous quarter because there is a shortage of peripheral ICs made using mature process nodes. Additionally, demand has slacked a bit for some SoC products.
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While the global electronics supply chain experienced a chip shortage, the corresponding shortage of foundry capacities also led various foundries to raise their quotes, resulting in an over 20% YoY increase in the total annual revenues of the top 10 foundries for both 2020 and 2021, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. The top 10 foundries’ annual revenue for 2021 is now expected to surpass US$100 billion. As TSMC leads yet another round of price hikes across the industry, annual foundry revenue for 2022 will likely reach US$117.69 billion, a 13.3% YoY increase.
Foundries will gradually kick off production with newly added capacities in 2H22 in response to the ongoing chip shortage
TrendForce indicates that the combined CAPEX of the top 10 foundries surpassed US$50 billion in 2021, a 43% YoY increase. As new fab constructions and equipment move-ins gradually conclude next year, their combined CAPEX for 2022 is expected to undergo a 15% YoY increase and fall within the US$50-60 billion range. In addition, now that TSMC has officially announced the establishment of a new fab in Japan, total foundry CAPEX will likely increase further next year. TrendForce expects the foundry industry’s total 8-inch and 12-inch wafer capacities to increase by 6% YoY and 14% YoY next year, respectively.
Although the manufacturing costs of 8-inch and 12-inch wafer fabrication equipment are roughly equal, the ASP of 8-inch wafers falls short compared with 12-inch wafers, meaning it is generally less cost-effective for foundries to expand their 8-inch wafer capacities. That is why the increase in 8-inch capacity is also expected to fall short of the increase in 12-inch capacity next year. Regarding 12-inch wafer foundry services, the 1Xnm and more mature nodes, which currently represent the most severe shortage among all manufacturing process technologies, will account for more than 50% of the newly added wafer capacities next year. On the other hand, while Chinese foundries, such as Hua Hong Wuxi and Nexchip, account for most of the newly added 12-inch wafer capacities this year, TSMC and UMC will comprise the majority of 12-inch wafer capacity expansions in 2022. These two foundries will primarily focus on expanding the production capacities allocated to the 40nm and 28nm nodes, both of which are currently in extreme shortage. As a result, the ongoing chip shortage will likely be alleviated somewhat in 2022.
Chip shortages will show signs of easing, but component gaps will continue to impact the production of some end products
Application segments such as consumer electronics (such as notebook computers), automotive electronics, and most connected digital appliances are now being impacted by the shortages of peripheral components made with the 28nm and more mature nodes. The undersupply of the said components will probably begin to moderate somewhat in 2H22 if foundries proceed to activate their newly added production capacity. However, just as there will be signs indicating an easing of capacity crunch for the 40nm and 28nm nodes, the tightening of production capacity for 8-inch wafers and 1Xnm nodes is going to be an important development that warrants close attention in 2022.
Regarding 8-inch wafer foundry services, the overall production capacity growth has been limited while the demand related to PMICs has increased multiple folds. The growth of this particular application has to do with the increasing market penetration of 5G smartphones and electric vehicles. Under this circumstance, PMICs continue to take up the available production capacity of 8-inch wafers, and wafer production lines that deploy ≦0.18µm nodes are now expected to operate at fully-loaded capacity to the end of 2022. Hence, the capacity crunch for 8-inch wafers will not ease in the short term.
As for 1Xnm nodes, the number of foundries that are offering these more advanced process technologies is gradually shrinking. The reason is that following the migration to FinFET in the general development of semiconductor manufacturing, the costs associated with R&D and capacity expansions have risen higher and higher. TSMC, Samsung, and GlobalFoundries are now the only three foundries in the world that possess 1Xnm technologies. Also, GlobalFoundries is the only one among these three to undertake a marginal capacity expansion for its 1Xnm node next year. The other two currently have no plan to raise 1Xnm production capacity in 2022.
In the aspect of demand, the kinds of chips that are made with 1Xnm nodes include the following: 4G SoCs, 5G RF transceivers, and Wi-Fi SoCs equipped in smartphones, as well as TV SoCs, chips for Wi-Fi routers, and FPGAs/ASICs. Due to the increasing market penetration of 5G smartphones, 5G RF transceivers will take up a massive portion of the overall 1Xnm production capacity. This will, in turn, significantly limit the available wafer capacity allocated to other products. Furthermore, demand has been rising over the years for smartphones that are equipped with 1Xnm Wi-Fi SoCs and Wi-Fi routers that contain 1Xnm chips. The supply of these components is already very limited at this moment and will get tighter in 2022 because the overall 1Xnm production capacity will not be raised by a significant amount.
In sum, there are several takeaways from this focus on the potential developments in the foundry market next year. First, the major foundries have now announced capacity expansions with the emphasis on addressing the capacity crunch for the 40nm and 28nm nodes. Their newly added production capacity is expected to enter operation next year, following two consecutive years of chip shortages. This will bring some relief to the undersupply situation, which is already very severe at this moment. However, the actual chip output contribution from the newly added production capacity will mainly take place no earlier than 2H22, or during the middle of the traditional peak season. With stock-up activities across the supply chain expected to reach a higher level of intensity at that time because of preparations for holiday sales, the easing of the capacity crunch in the foundry market will not be especially noticeable.
Second, it is worth pointing out that even though supply will loosen slightly for some 40/28nm chips, the lack of production capacity for 0.1Xµm chips on 8-inch wafers and 1Xnm chips on 12-inch wafers will likely remain a serious bottleneck in the supply chain. Currently, production capacity is already quite insufficient for 0.1Xµm 8-inch wafers and 1Xnm 12-inch wafers. Next year, the related capacity growth is also expected to be fairly limited. In sum, TrendForce believes that the foundry market will continue to experience some tightness in production capacity during 2022. Although the undersupply situation will moderate for some components, the persistent issue of component gaps will also continue to adversely affect the production of certain end products.
For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at firstname.lastname@example.org
Having experienced in worldwide lockdown caused by COVID-19 and rising geopolitical worries in recent years, governments of various countries hope to have wafer manufacturing plants in their own territories to reduce the possible impact of supply chain disconnection; however, building and operating a semiconductor wafer manufacturing factory is not an easy task. In addition to the extremely high cost, high labor demand, and environmental conditions are also a threshold. Therefore, TSMC, the leader in foundries, has naturally become the target of active invitations by governments to set up factories. In addition to Japan, after evaluating customer needs, cost, and environmental resources (including water, electricity, land) and other conditions, TSMC doesn’t rule out the possibility of setting up factories in other countries if it is cost-effective.
Japan, once the world’s largest semiconductor cluster, still occupies a very important position in some semiconductor equipment, raw materials and packaging materials, and technologies. TSMC has previously announced the establishment of a 3DIC material R&D center in Japan, and this time it announced the establishment of a wafer manufacturing plant. In addition to deepening the streamlined process of customer products from manufacturing to packaging, it can also cooperate closely with upstream equipment vendors, chemical raw materials factories, such as TEL, SCREEN, SUMCO, Shinetsu, etc.
This year sees the continuation of the persistent chip shortage, which entails a shortage of production capacity for not only 12-inch wafers fabricated with mature process technologies but also 8-inch wafers in particular. The shortage of 8-inch wafer production capacity initially began gestating in 2H19, owing to emerging demand from structural changes in the semiconductor industry, with 5G smartphones and PMICs used in new energy vehicles as two examples of such demand. At the same time, the consumption of semiconductor production capacity has also increased multiplicatively in recent years as a result of the aforementioned structural changes. TrendForce expects demand for semiconductor capacity from emerging applications to continue rising in the coming years.
In response to this emerging demand, foundries such as TSMC, UMC, and SMIC are currently expanding their investment in mature process technologies. TrendForce expects the industry’s total 8-inch wafer capacity to grow at a 3-5% CAGR from 2019 to 2023, while 12-inch wafer capacity is expected to grow at an 11-13% CAGR across the same period. It should be pointed out that production capacities allocated to the 0.18-0.11µm process nodes（for 8-inch wafer fabrication） and 55nm-12nm nodes（for 12-inch wafer fabrication）represent the most severe shortage among all process nodes. Hence, certain foundries are expected to gradually install additional production capacities for mature process technologies in 2H22-1H23. These installations will likely help address the ongoing chip shortage.
In addition, several foundries are focusing on expanding their 28nm manufacturing capacity, primarily because transistor architecture below the 20nm node requires a transition to FinFET architecture, which is relatively costly. The 28nm node represents the sweet spot in terms of cost/benefit and is widely used for manufacturing such mainstream products as notebook Wi-Fi chips, smartphone OLED driver ICs, automotive MCUs, and image signal processors. Furthermore, chips used for IoT applications, including smart home appliances and set-top boxes, as well as other products currently manufactured at the 40nm node will likely be migrated to 28nm manufacturing, meaning the demand for 28nm capacity will continue to grow going forward.